I have been pregnant twice... In one year... For nine weeks each time... Had everything gone according to plan, I could have been halfway through a pregnancy and well on my way to a baby. Unfortunately, something went wrong in both cases, and the fetus died sometime between weeks six and eight.
Miscarriage at any stage of pregnancy is an awful experience to go through - no question about it. The grief, the shattered hopes, the loss of unrealized potential can be almost too much to bear. There are, however, some things that can be learned and leveraged for comfort to help you survive.
1) THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. You must remember that. Having a miscarriage does not invalidate you as a woman and a human being. This is not the time to be hard on yourself. Take good care of yourself, allow yourself to be human so that you can recover.
2) Miscarriages are a lot more common than we realize. It is just that nobody talks about it during cocktail parties - people prefer to talk about their normal healthy kids. If you mention miscarriage to another woman in private, you may discover that half of your female acquaintances had at least one miscarriage. Some women miscarry before they even realize they are pregnant. It is not uncommon to have two miscarriages in a row. The point is - this happening to you is not an indication of some terrible incurable fault with you, and you are definitely not alone.
3) Miscarriage is a nature's way of keeping a woman from using her resources on something that cannot survive. This may seem like a very cold way of looking at a terrible tragedy. However, the same natural mechanism allows you to "reset" and try again. Going back to point (2), the same women who admitted to having had a miscarriage will tell you about having a normal healthy baby on the next try - a good thing to keep in mind and rally your own spirits.
4) If you are in the early stages of pregnancy, schedule an ultrasound around week 8 - a point, by which a fetus should have a heartbeat. Set it up, even if you are not having any symptoms of a miscarriage (cramping, bleeding, nausea, etc.) If everything goes well - you will have a very first picture of your little one. If not - it is better to detect the problem early, giving you more options and more time to decide what to do.
5) If the early ultrasound and blood tests determine that the fetus is not viable, get a D&C (Dilation and Curettage). Yes, in layman's terms, D&C is an abortion. However, please remember, that in this particular case, this is not a matter of convenience or lack of responsibility. The fetus is already deceased.
The problem with waiting for a spontaneous miscarriage is that it is...well... spontaneous. It can happen anywhere - and I mean ANYWHERE: at home, at work, at a grocery store, in a car while you are stuck in traffic on a busy highway. In addition to being unpredictable, spontaneous miscarriage can be painful, bloody and traumatic both physically and emotionally. You will still need a hospital visit to stem the bleeding, finish "cleaning you out" and prevent infection.
D&C allows you to avoid the unpredictability, lower the risk of infection, and minimize at least the physical trauma. Instead of having to fight your way through a busy emergency room, you will be given a dedicated time slot, during which an entire group of qualified specialists will be focused on one thing and one thing only - you. ...Keeping you safe and making you better...
6) Remember your spouse or significant other. If the father of your child is AWOL, reach out to your friends - you should not be alone at this time. If, however, he is there with you every step of the way, please remember - this is difficult for him too. It is his child too, and besides, he is having to go through his own set of worries: will you be alright, how this will impact your relationship, what will happen next.
Take some time to decide TOGETHER what you want to do next. If this is not your first miscarriage, consider very carefully - both of you - if you have it in you to try conceiving naturally again. Remember, there is nothing wrong with deciding not to have children - this does not make you a bad or selfish person. There is also nothing wrong with adoption. If you love children, you can be a terrific parent to one (or more) regardless of whether it is biologically yours or not.
7) Allow yourself to recover. Do not deprive yourself of things, because you think you should be grief-stricken and depressed. Allow yourself to laugh. Go watch that movie. Have that piece of chocolate. Enjoy a nice meal. Indulge in a bottle of good wine. You had just been through an awful ordeal - you deserve every opportunity to make yourself better and enjoy life again.